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told Mr. Dryden’s, he said, “What, shall Dryden, the greatest honour and ornament of the nation, be buried after this private manner | No, gentlemen, let all that loved Mr. Dryden, and honour his memory, alight and join with me in gaining my lady’s consent to let me have the honour of his interment, which shall be after another manner than this; and I will bestow a thousand pounds on a monument in the Abbey for him.’ The gentlemen in the coaches not knowing of the bishop of Rochester’s favour, nor of the lord Halifax's generous design (they both having, out of respect to the family enjoined the lady Elizabeth and her son, to keep their favour concealed to the world, and let it pass for their own expence), readily came out of their coaches, and attended lord Jefferies up to the lady’s bedside, who was then sick. He repeated the purport of what he had before said; but she absolutely refusing, he fell on his knees, vowing never to rise till his request was granted. The rest of the company by his desire kneeled also; and the lady, being under a sudden surprize, fainted away. As soon as she recovered her speech she cried Mo, no. Enough, gentlemen, replied he ; my lady is very good, she says Go, go. She repeated her former words with all her strength, but in vain, for her feeble voice was lost in their acclamations of joy; and the lord Jefferies ordered the hearsemen to carry the corpse to Mr. Russel’s, an undertaker in Cheapside, and leave it there till he should send orders for the embalment, which, he added, should be after the royal manner. His directions were obeyed, the company dispersed, and lady Elizabeth and her son remained inconsolable. The next day Mr. Charles Dryden waited on the lord Halifax and the bishop, to excuse his mother and himself, by relating the real truth. But neither his lord
ship nor the bishop would admit of any plea; especially the latter, who had the Abbeylighted, the ground opened, the choir attending, an anthem ready set, and himself waiting for some time without any corpse to bury. The undertaker, after three days’ expectance of orders for embalment without receiving any, waited on the lord Jefferies; who, pretending ignorance of the matter, turned it off with an ill-natured jest, saying that those who observed the orders of a drunken frolick deserved no better; that he remembered nothing at all of it; and that he might do what he pleased with the corpse. Upon this the undertaker waited upon the lady Elizabeth, and her son, and threatened to bring the corpse home, and set it before the door. They desired a day’s respite, which was granted. Mr. Charles Dryden wrote a handsome letter to the lord Jefferies, who returned it with this cool answer: “That he knew nothing of the matter, and would be troubled no more about it.’ He then addressed the lord Halifax and the bishop of Rochester, who absolutely refused to do any thing in it. In this distress Dr. Garth sent for the corpse to the College of Physicians, and proposed a funeral by subscription, to which himself set a most noble example. At last a day, about three weeks after Mr. Dryden's decease, was appointed for the interment. Dr. Garth pronounced a fine Latin oration, at the College, over the corpse; which was attended to the Abbey by a nufmerous train of coaches. When the funeral was over, Mr. Charles Dryden sent a challenge to the lord Jefferies, who refusing to answer it, he sent several. others, and went often himself; but could neither get a letter delivered, nor admittance to speak to him ; which so incensed him, that he resolved, since his lordship refused to answer him like a gentleman, that he would watch an opportunity to meet and fight offhand, though with all the rules of honour; which his
lordship hearing, left the town: and Mr. Charles Dryden could never have the satisfaction of meeting him, though he sought it till his death with the utmost application.” This story I once intended to omit, as it appears with no great evidence ; nor have I met with any confirmation but in a letter of Farquhar ; and he only relates that the funeral of Dryden was tumultuary and confused.* Supposing the story true, we may remark, that the gradual change of manners, though imperceptible in the process, appears great when different times, and those not very distant, are compared. If at this time a young drunken lord should interrupt the pompous regularity of a magnificent funeral, what would be the event, but that he would be justled out of the way, and compelled to be quiet 2 If he should thrust himself into a house, he would be sent roughly away ; and, what is yet more to the honour of the present time, I believe that those, who had subscribed to the funeral of a man like Dryden, would not, for such an accident, have withdrawn their contributions.f
* An earlier account of Dryden's funeral than that above cited, though without the circumstances that preceded it, is given by Edward Ward, who in his London Spy, published in 1706, relates, that on the occasion there was a performance of solemn musick at the college, and that at the procession, which himself saw, standing at the end of Chancery lane, Fleet street, there was a concert of hautboys and trumpets. The day of Dryden’s interment, he says, was Mondav, the 13th of May, which, according to Johnson, was twelve days after his decease, and shews how long his funeral was in suspense. Ward knew not that the expense of it was defrayed by subscription; but compliments lord Jefferies for so pious an undertaking. He also says, that the cause of Dryden's death was an inflammation in his toe, occasioned by the flesh growing over the nail, which being neglected, produced a mortification in his leg. H. f in the Register of the College of Physicians, is the following Entry : “ May 3, 1700. Comitiis Censoriis ordinariis. At the request of several persons of quality, that Mr. Dryden might be car
He was buried among the poets in Westminster Abbey, where, though the duke of Newcastle had in a general dedication prefixed by Congreve to his dramatick works, accepted thanks for his intention of erecting him a monument, he lay long without distinction, till the duke of Buckinghamshire gave him a tablet, inscribed only with the name of DRY DEN. He married the lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter to the earl of Berkshire, with circumstances, according to the satire imputed to lord Somers, not very honqurable to either party; by her he had three sons, Charles, John, and Henry. Charles was usher of the palace to pope Clement the XI; and, visiting England in 1704, was drowned in an attempt to swim across the Thames at Windsor. John was author of a comedy called The Husband his own Cuckold. He is said to have died at Rome. Henry entered into some religious order. It is some proof of Dryden's sincerity in his second religion, that he taught it to his sons. A man, conscious of hypocritical profession in himself, is not likely to convert others; and, as his sons were qualified in 1693, to appear among the translators of Juvenal, they must have been taught some religion before their father’s change. Of the person of Dryden I know not any account; of his mind, the portrait which has been left by Congreve, who knew him with great familiarity, is such as adds our love of his manners to our admiration of his genius. “He was,” we are told, “ of a nature exceedingly humane and compassionate, ready to forgive injuries, and capable of a sincere reconciliation with those who had offended him. His friendship,
* ried from the College of Physicians to be interred at Westminster, it was unanimously granted by the president and censors.”
This entry is not caleulated to afford any credit to the narrative concerning lord Jefferies, R.
where he professed it, went beyond his professions. He was of a very easy, of a very pleasing access; but somewhat slow, and, as it were, diffident in his advances to others: he had that in nature which abhorred intrusion into any society whatever. He was therefore less known, and consequently his character became more liable to misapprehensions and misrepresentations; he was very modest, and very easily to be discountenanced in his approaches to his equals or superiors. As his reading had been very extensive, so was he very happy in a memory tenacious of every thing that he had read. He was not more possessed of knowledge than he was communicative of it; but then his communication was by no means pedantick, or imposed upon the conversation, but just such, and went so far, as, by the natural turn of the conversation in which he was engaged, it was necessarily promoted or required. He was extremely ready and gentle in his correction of the errors of any writer who thought fit to consult him, and full as ready and patient to admit the reprehensions of others, in respect of his own oversights or mistakes.”
To this account of Congreve nothing can be objected but the fondness of friendship; and to have excited that fondness in such a mind is no small degree of praise. The disposition of Dryden however, is shown in his character rather as it exhibited itself in cursory conversation, than as it operated on the more important parts of life. His placability and his friendship indeed were solid virtues; but courtesy and good humour are often found with little real worth. Since Congreve, who knew him well, has told us no more, the rest must be collected as it can from other testimonies, and particularly from those notices which Dryden had very liberally given us of himself.